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Trial scheduled for 6-year complex divorce battle

High-asset divorces in Texas -- as in other states -- can continue for years before they are finalized. This is also the case in the complex divorce of Richard and Alicia Stephenson, who filed for divorce in 2009 after a marriage that lasted 18 years. The couple's failure to come to an agreement about the division of their millions and questions about the validity of their prenuptial agreement that could prevent Alicia Stephenson from receiving anything may finally be resolved at a scheduled trial.

Richard Stephenson, who is the founder and chairman of Cancer Treatment Centers of America, contends that the prenuptial agreement that was signed before the marriage is valid. The divorce was filed in an equitable distribution state, ruling that assets must be divided in a manner that is regarded fair in the eyes of the court. However, this couple's prenup apparently states that each party will manage his or her own separate assets as if they were never married.

With the prenuptial agreement, Richard Stephenson wanted to ensure that the inheritances of his four children from a previous marriage would not be affected in the event of a divorce from Alicia. According to the agreement, assets accumulated before and during the marriage by each party would remain the sole property of that person. Over the past six years, the divorce proceedings of this case included more than one judge and multiple attorneys. There have been contempt of court orders and rulings by an appellate court.

As in this complex divorce, high net worth couples in Texas may experience similar delays. Couples can avoid years of time-consuming and expensive litigation if they can communicate and negotiate, even if it is done with the help of a divorce mediator. However, some divorce cases can only be resolved through litigation, and the guidance and support of an experienced high asset divorce attorney may be vital.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Epic divorce of multimillionaire Cancer Centers founder goes to trial", Robert McCoppin, April 12, 2016

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